Working at Height
Working at height is work in any place where you could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. Working at height is consistently among the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries within the workplace.
Detailed in the tabs below you will find Working at Height information in place within your Board.
National Services Scotland
The main safety concerns with working at height are people or objects falling and causing serious injury and damage.
Within these pages you will find information and precautions that Line Mangers should take to protect any of their employees working at height.
If you require additional information you can contact the NSS Health & Safety Advisors through HR Connect Contact Us / Health and Safety
Public Health Scotland
Scottish Ambulance Service
The Scottish Ambulance Service aims to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its staff and to avoid risk or injury to third parties. It recognises the risks to staff that need to work at height in connection with their duties and is committed to the prevention of injury, loss of life from working at height incidents.
- What working at height safety precautions do I need to be aware of?
Where possible, when working at height Managers and employees should make sure the area below is cordoned off. In all cases of working at height, ensure that
- the equipment used is suitable for the job and is maintained and in good condition
- workers are competent and trained to use the equipment and carry out the job safely
- all workers understand the job and the control measures in place to ensure their safety.
More complex jobs may be accompanied by a detailed method statement for the activity. A permit to work system can be used to govern the duration of the work at height.
Ladders are acceptable only for access or work of short duration, and should be
- erected at the correct angle (4 up to 1 out)
- secured, preferably at the top, or footed
- positioned close to the work to avoid over-reaching
- protected at the base to stop vehicles or pedestrians bumping into them.
- be spread to their full extent and locked off
- only have one person on the ladder at any one time
- be appropriate and of the correct grade for the intended use
- not have the top tread, tool shelf or rear of the steps used as a foot support.
Mobile elevated platforms
When using mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPS) employees should
- wear a safety harnesses
- only use the platform on level, firm ground
- work with a trained operator at ground level
- only use the equipment with outriggers and stabilisers
- keep the platform within safe working limits and radius, taking account of wind speeds, beams, hanging obstructions and power cables.
Tower scaffolds should be erected and periodically inspected by a competent person.
Where a person might fall 2 metres or more, the scaffolding must be inspected by a competent person, a record maintained and further inspection at least weekly thereafter.
A tagging system is a useful way to inform workers that these inspections are taking place. A risk assessment may find the need for more frequent inspections. They may also be required after bad weather and always after any modification.
Additionally, tower scaffolds should
- have ladder access to the working platform
- use outriggers or stabilisers if above 2.5 m high
- have stabilisers deployed to meet the correct height to base ratio
- have a height to base dimension ratio not exceeding 3 to 1 indoors, or 2.5 to 1 outdoors
- have all casters firmly locked before use and never be moved while the tower is occupied.
Additional safety equipment
Additional equipment should only be considered as a last resort when no other means are reasonably practicable. These include
- safety lines
- other fall restraint and arrest equipment.
They should only be used and erected by trained personnel and be tested and inspected regularly.
- What is a working at height method statement?
Where the work being carried out is considered to be complex, Line Managers should provide or should be provided with if an external company is being used a more detailed indication of the work to be carried out to those involved in the form of a method statement, this will also include how the risks are managed.
- What is a working at height risk assessment?
When work at height cannot be avoided, you will need to carry out a risk assessment. Line Managers will need to consider how employees are required to:
- work at height
- access a work location
- evacuate quickly and safely in an emergency.
- Who is at risk from working at height?
Workers in a variety of jobs could be at risk when working at height. These include worker’s in: -
- SNBTS workers – Drivers, Donor Team Members etc
- maintenance personnel
- window cleaning
- painting and decorating
- the road transport industry
Those who do one-off jobs working at height without proper training, planning or equipment are also at risk. So are members of the public who could be harmed by the activities of those working at height
- What are the common risks for working at height?
There are certain activities involving working at height that present an obvious hazard. These include work from ladders, scaffolds and platforms.
Other examples can include work
- on roofs
- on elevated structures
- over tanks, pits or water
- on cliffs and steep ground
- on top of vehicles or trailers
If a worker falls from a height of two or more meters, they are likely to sustain a serious injury, permanent disability or die.
Injury and damage from people or items falling can occur as a result of:
- poor edge protection
- unguarded openings
- items being poorly stored or secured
- work in areas without guardrails or covers
Hazards can also arise due to changes in weather, inside and out.